Q: What is it? A: Low-cost lodging in combo with a pretty attractive interior. Located in a less expensive part of the city. Concept tweaked to actually work. Yes, it does.
This lobby tells the story about the citizenM concept quite well. It’s relatively attractive. It’s not overly exclusive. There are different tweaks to well-known concepts here and there (see the bookstore in the middle of this pic?) and it’s more playful than playing on exclusivity.
Just face it: Rooms are small and they are all the same size. I’ve stayed in New York rooms that have been of equal size but for London this has to be considered small. So, I suggest you are either lovers or very good friends before booking yourselves in here. For a solo traveler? Ideal!
This pic may give you a better idea of the room layout (again, all rooms are identical). A narrow hallway with a sink (the unit has multiple functions). Yes, you will brush your teeth in the hallway. Pod containing WC/shower to the left.
Inside the aforementioned pod. WC and shower. Works surprisingly well but finding places to hang your used towels turned out to be a logic puzzle. Not sure if I should give out bonus points for the weird light temperature…
citizenM doesn’t come with a ‘real’ restaurant. That is; no in-hotel fine dining. On the other hand, breakfasts are surprisingly good, and the staff manning the bar is young and service-minded. No, I didn’t miss the room service delivery of an overpriced and sad little Cæsar sallad.
Quite a few of the 192 rooms come with an atrium ‘view’. Not that you are really experiencing said view. Windows are covered with a film that protects guests from voyeurs and other folks who like to snoop on their neighbors.
Have I seen the future of low-cost hotels?
There has been a boom in the value segment of hotels lately. Several attempts have been made to shake up the market and offer something that is not as budget-y as a hostel but at the same time not offering pillow chocolates. The need was greater in certain cities, among them London, where they would charge and arm and a leg for rooms of very mediocre standard. The citizenM-chain opened their first hotel near the Schiphol airport in Amsterdam in 2008. At the time of writing they operate seven hotels in six cities. Expect that number to grow.
You need to say goodbye to a few things.
There are no bellboys manning the door. You check in using a terminal in the reception. Members of the staff are on site but perform multiple tasks. There’s no concierge. No room-service. No fine dining. But expect design furniture (Vitra, the furniture maker, seems to be a partner in crime), bright colors and a friendly and relaxed attitude. And also a price tag that is not too hefty. Which is the idea. They call their concept ”affordable luxury” but I see very little luxury in this hotel. ”Affordable functionality” would be a label more fitting.
Rooms are on the smaller side.
As mentioned in the captions, travelers staying together in these rooms would better be comfortable with living on top of each other. There’s a large drawer underneath the bed but let’s face it; you will be looking for places to put your stuff throughout your entire stay. No smart furniture concept will change that. Solo travelers may embrace these rooms wholeheartedly.
The location? Ummm… pretty OK.
Staying south of the river was a pretty alien thought to me until just a few years ago. Now, it has become one of the more interesting parts of London. Without the development of the South Bank it would probably never have happened. It’s also very easy to see how the location contributes to the sensible price tag. It’s not the place to say if you want to have Piccadilly Circus around the corner, but honestly… who wants that? I mean – really?
citizenM London Bankside
20 Lavington Street
London SE1 0NZ
And, in a style once pioneered by the W Hotel chain, the citizenM hotel delivers little tongue-in-cheek messages all over the place. I guess it’s a cheap way to make the outline of their hotel concept clearer.